Sunday, May 26, 2013

Time to Salute Matty Guokas

A fantastic NBA player, a proud coach, and a renowned big time in-game announcer, Matt Guokas is saying goodbye to the Orlando Magic once again. Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel broke the sad news for us on Friday that the Magic won't be retaining Matt Guokas for their television broadcasts any longer. Let's just say some of the outrage and disappointment to the news has been more than appropriate thus far. This move to relieve Guokas of his post comes almost 20 years after the Magic dethroned Matty from the Head Coach position of the franchise he helped guide through its first 4 seasons of existence. It didn't feel like it, but Guokas was calling Magic games since the 2004-2005 season as he's stuck around with this franchise as long as Jameer Nelson has. Guokas got to watch Dwight develop up-close and personal from the sidelines. Even Matt's laughter added to the viewing experience: 

For anyone who followed the Magic this season on FOX Sports Florida, you were probably aware of Matty missing various games during the '12-'13 campaign. I'm hoping the 69-year-old's contract wasn't renewed because it's a matter of resting his body and maintaining good health. 

If it was a performance issue, then the Magic organization needs to be scolded immensely. You win only 20 games, it's obvious your ratings will suck. There are not many play-by-play guys that are as fair and unbiased yet information-packed as Guokas is. Combined with David Steele, the Magic for almost a decade have had the best commentating duo in the league. They've been a constant source of professionalism, especially since the creation of their partnership followed the messy 'Goose' Givens situation

In my awesome first season truly covering the Magic, I never did get a chance to really chat with Mr. Guokas. It just never worked out that we were in the same area within the depths of Amway Center. There is one universal fact though known among all Magic employees and NBA journalists: Matty is about as classy as they come. Even through the adversity of your typical Lakers crowd:

My favorite Matt Guokas story actually precedes my existence on this planet by about eighteen years, and just goes to show the kindness and generosity of the Guokas family in general. My father emigrated from Greece to Philadelphia back in 1970 as a 13-year-old. Who was the first teacher that helped my dad improve his English? Well Matty Guokas' mother, Joan, of course. It also worked out that just before Matt left the Sixers to join the Chicago Bulls, my dad and his classmates were able to attend a Sixers game at the Spectrum thanks to Mrs. Guokas. It was the first NBA game my dad ever attended, and Matt and Joan helped gain a new fan for the league on that occasion. Somewhere, hidden in northeastern Greece, are a basketball and sneakers signed by Matt Guokas.

I can guarantee that every fan and individual affiliated with the Magic is wishing Guokas all the best. Also, I'm sure we'd all like to see that picture of Matty in his tap dance outfit. The good news about all of this is that if Jeff Turner steps in for Guokas, we get the full-time "KAPAYA" return. Whoever becomes the new color commentator to partner with Steele, it'll be tough for anyone to match Guokas' subtle and well-placed sarcastic moments:

If Guokas is healthy and wants a job, he'll have zero problems finding a new announcing occupation.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Looking Back at Last Night's Lottery

So the Pat Williams world renowned string of good luck is over. It was inevitable I guess. No way it could last forever. We're still all allowed to feel bad. This was Pat Williams' first chance to truly return a hero (again) for the first time since 2004 when Williams clinched the #1 selection that would lead to Dwight Howard being drafted. We'll always have the memories. Tuesday morning was all about Pat doing the radio interview rounds too and dropping his knowledge and optimism on the public. Pat got outdone by Nick Gilbert and the Cavaliers who were expected to land the third spot only to jump to the top. Orlando had the best odds to win the lottery and earn the right to choose #1 in the June 27th NBA Draft, but Pat and the gang will be settling for #2.

Now the fun part comes. It is assumed that Nerlens Noel will be a Cavalier. That leaves guys like Ben McLemore, Trey Burke, Otto Porter, Victor Oladipo, and Anthony Bennett for the Magic to sift through in determining who deserves to be chosen #2. If you look at how Wizards fans and journalists are reacting to the glorious news of leaping from a supposed #8 pick to third, it's almost a lock that Otto Porter will be selected #3. That's if Orlando passes on him.

Also enjoy the anti-climactic behind-the-scenes clip of how it all went down. It's still fascinating as Joel Glass had to keep quiet as to not spoil the results:

Let's examine some intriguing 'moments' from ESPN's live half hour Lottery coverage.

I'll only mention that Heather Cox has a great future in becoming a full time lottery drawing model. Also, we ALL still can't get Noel's mom's hair out of our minds. I'll spare your eyes again of that surprising image. She makes her son's flattop look boring and normal.

Look, I fully understand that Nick Gilbert has an illness. It's still okay to not like the kid though...or his family. It was blatantly obvious by Alex Martins' numb stare and Rob Hennigan's lip curve that they were both more than annoyed by Cleveland's delegation. They're not the only ones. Clearly there was a lot of banter and chatter between the two parties before the live television program I think if it was David Stern announcing the ping pong balls instead of Adam Silver, Pat would've won it. I'm convinced.

Come on now, Dan, you can't even give Pat a respectable hand shake? Is that how you teach others to act?

I got a good laugh out of ESPN justifying Cleveland selecting Noel EVEN MORE by oddly transforming Tyler Zeller from a PF/C into a guard:

As we slowly approach the draft, we can continue to examine what the Magic should do. As of right now, I don't think Rob Hennigan will trade the #2 pick. I don't foresee any other NBA teams truly offering much value in return for that second choice. I believe it's down to 3 players that the Magic will pick should they retain the #2 selection: Burke, McLemore, and Oladipo. Whoever Orlando picks is crucial, because it means that Jameer Nelson or Arron Afflalo won't be in the team's long-term future. For now, allow the speculation to begin.